Europe losing ground in flight stopovers

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The Independent Travel

New statistics have shown that Europe is losing ground to other regions in long-haul flight stopovers.

The data, released by the US Government and compiled from I-94 forms completed by international passengers departing the US, showed a considerable rise in journeys to the Middle East and Africa, according to analysis from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

The number of I-95 forms showing the Middle East as the first international destination has risen from 554,031 in 2005 to 1.21 million in 2009, and was up a further 35.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010, CAPA's analysis showed.

Africa saw growth from 203,867 passengers in 2005 to 398,970 in 2009.

The group's analysis suggests that the growth of Gulf carriers is capturing customers that traditionally stopped in Europe, which last year saw the lowest number of passengers bound for it.

In a sobering conclusion, CAPA suggests that "Europe has no doubt seen the apex of its role as the gateway to Africa and Asia" and the "US, with its unpopular visa and security restrictions, will continue to be bypassed by foreigners."

The future of connecting hubs, it seems, lies outside the world's traditional aviation markets.